Ticketmaster Summer in Stages

Aurélia's Oratorio

Victoria Thierrée Chaplin and Aurélia Thierrée
Lyric Hammersmith in association with Crying Out Loud
Lyric Hammersmith
(2006)

Production photo

In the topsy turvy world of Aurélia, anything is possible. Puppets fall in love with human girls, coats wrestle with their owners and dispatch them, and white lace monsters attack sleeping maidens, who resourcefully stitch their severed limbs back together and go on with the show.

Back by popular demand following last year's critically acclaimed run, Aurélia's Oratorio is a magical mixture of music, theatre, dance and circus. Aurélia Thierée is the bewitching eponymous heroine who takes up residence in a chest of drawers to escape the outside world and her baffled boyfriend, and embarks on an inner journey through a fantastical landscape which is part dream, part nightmare.

Thierée herself is a fearless acrobat with a wry sense of comedy and an ethereal, beguiling theatrical presence. She performs dazzling illusions with a smile which does not undermine the wonder of it all, but reminds the audience that this is all for show - we should not believe all we see. One of the piece's recurring motifs is a family of red velvet stage curtains who chase each other across the stage, a sly allusion to Thierée's own theatrical background, perhaps (she is the granddaughter of Charlie Chaplin and the daughter of two of the leading exponents of theatrical circus).

For all its surface dazzle, the heart of Aurélia's Oratorio is about the fears and fantasies which hold Aurélia in their thrall and which she is unable to articulate in words. The Oratorio presents Aurélia's emotions in dream-like symbols - ropes which, when climbed, are found to lead nowhere, a bright red coat which turns black when worn by her lover, a pair of trousers in which the lovers try to fuse as one person and, over it all, the sound of train whistles and alarm clocks which warn that time is fleeting.

Children and adults alike will love the magical wonder of this piece and its unique blend of circus tricks, dance and drama. It is elegiac yet gleeful, experimental but accessible, and above all one of the most captivating hours you will ever spend in a theatre. Go now!

Until 17 June 2006

Reviewer: Louise Hill